MIAMI -- With team off-days scheduled for Wednesday, Friday and Monday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora has some interesting choices to make when it comes to his rotation at the end of the weekend and the beginning of next week.Though Sunday would be Chris Sale's regular day to pitch in
MIAMI -- With team off-days scheduled for Wednesday, Friday and Monday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora has some interesting choices to make when it comes to his rotation at the end of the weekend and the beginning of next week.
Though Sunday would be Chris Sale's regular day to pitch in terms of rest, Cora may opt to hold the lefty back for the opener of a much-anticipated three-game series against the Yankees on April 10.
As for Sunday, one scenario in play is that lefty Eduardo Rodriguez could be activated from the disabled list to start that day against the Rays. Rodriguez pitched six innings in an extended spring game on Tuesday and told Cora via text that he "dominated."
Cora could also allow Rodriguez to make one more Minor League start and go with either righty Hector Velazquez or lefty Christopher Johnson on Sunday.
It seems more likely than not that Sale will start the series against the Yankees, with David Price and Rick Porcello pitching the second and third games of the first showdown of the rivalry in 2018.
The one thing Cora wanted to make clear is that if he gives Sale extra rest, it is designed more for his long-term benefit, than for lining him up against the Yankees at this early stage of the season.
"It's not saving him for the Yankees series," said Cora. "It's just seeing where we're at. There are a few options available for that Sunday game. If we took care of him from the beginning of Spring Training, then whenever we have a window, we will probably take advantage of it. I'm not saying we will, but we're going to revisit that."
What are the chances Rodriguez, who underwent right knee surgery in the offseason, makes his debut on Sunday?
"We'll talk about it," Cora said. "Six innings are six innings regardless of where you're at, A ball, end of Spring Training, whatever. He used all his pitches, he felt great, we'll talk about it probably tomorrow and see what the next step is."
Price on tap for Thursday
Perhaps it's only fitting that Price gets the ball in the Fenway opener on Thursday against the Rays. He is on a mission to regain his elite level this season, a process that started when the lefty dominated in the bullpen in last year's postseason. In his first start of the season, Price dazzled, giving up no runs over seven innings.
"I'm very happy with him. I'm glad that he's pitching on Thursday, to go out at the home opener and perform," said Cora. "I think he turned the page in October the way he pitched, he was amazing. He was the best pitcher [for the Red Sox] in the playoffs. He proved to everybody who he is when he's healthy. We're very happy where he's at."
In advance of the home opener, the club unveiled some ballpark improvements on Tuesday, including the new protective netting that extends from Field Box section 79 to Field Box Section 9, expanding an area that previously covered Section 61 to 29. The system stands at 12 feet, 8 inches above the playing field and is a new "field green" color to minimize the impact to sightlines in affected areas. All 30 Major League clubs extended protective netting for 2018.
There will also be a new field-level group seating area beyond the Red Sox dugout to accommodate groups of 25 people. The new space is sold on a game-by-game basis and gives fans a similar view as the players. Groups interested in those seats should e-mail email@example.com.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.